con·​fuse | \ kən-ˈfyüz How to pronounce confuse (audio) \
confused; confusing

Definition of confuse

transitive verb

1 : to disturb in mind or purpose : throw off The directions she gave confused us.
2a : to make indistinct : blur Stop confusing the issue.
b : to fail to differentiate from an often similar or related other confuse money with comfort Do not confuse the words "flaunt" and "flout".
c : to mix indiscriminately : jumble Their arms, legs, and bodies were confused together, till they resembled … two serpents interlaced.— Thomas Medwin
3 : to make embarrassed : abash
4 archaic : to bring to ruin

Other Words from confuse

confusingly \ kən-​ˈfyü-​ziŋ-​lē How to pronounce confuse (audio) \ adverb

Examples of confuse in a Sentence

The general was trying to confuse the enemy. The new evidence only confused matters further. You must be confusing me with someone else.
Recent Examples on the Web Many confuse the official White House portraits with the ones commissioned by the Smithsonian’s National Portrait Gallery, which were unveiled in 2018; Kehinde Wiley painted Barack Obama, Amy Sherald painted Michelle Obama. Robin Pogrebin,, 7 Sep. 2022 Some people confuse mission statements with values. Aaron Agius, Forbes, 19 July 2022 Flashing lights on an emergency vehicle, Rajkumar said, might confuse the system, as would anything that the computer hasn’t seen before. Tom Krisher, ajc, 14 June 2022 Alternatively, Mappes posits, iridescence might simply confuse predators: if a beetle’s color shifts, a predator might not be able to classify it as safe or dangerous. Kate Golembiewski, Scientific American, 3 June 2022 Moreover, people might confuse the symptoms with a different illness, given how common many of them are. Chris Smith, BGR, 2 June 2022 People confuse hemlock with cow parsley also known as wild chervil, wild carrot or Queen Anne’s Lace and many other names. oregonlive, 29 May 2022 People confuse the issue of low wages versus low family incomes. David Neumark, WSJ, 15 Aug. 2022 Those little arrow logos, Baldwin said, confuse the issue. Susan Dunne, Hartford Courant, 11 Aug. 2022 See More

These example sentences are selected automatically from various online news sources to reflect current usage of the word 'confuse.' Views expressed in the examples do not represent the opinion of Merriam-Webster or its editors. Send us feedback.

First Known Use of confuse

14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 4

History and Etymology for confuse

Middle English confusen, back-formation from confused "frustrated, ruined," participle based on Anglo-French confus, borrowed from Latin confūsus, past participle of confundere "to pour together, blend, bring into disorder, destroy, disconcert" — more at confound

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The first known use of confuse was in the 14th century

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Last Updated

24 Sep 2022

Cite this Entry

“Confuse.” Dictionary, Merriam-Webster, Accessed 30 Sep. 2022.

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More Definitions for confuse


con·​fuse | \ kən-ˈfyüz How to pronounce confuse (audio) \
confused; confusing

Kids Definition of confuse

1 : to make uncertain or unable to understand : perplex The directions confused me and I got lost.
2 : to fail to tell apart Teachers always confused the twins.

More from Merriam-Webster on confuse

Nglish: Translation of confuse for Spanish Speakers

Britannica English: Translation of confuse for Arabic Speakers


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